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EFL announce approach to improve participant behaviour

29 July 2016

New undertaking to improve behaviour in football

The Premier League, EFL and The FA have announced a collective undertaking to improve behaviour across the game. This announcement sees the competition organisers task the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO) to take a stronger position and action towards unacceptable participant conduct.

The specific areas of focus will be in relation to participants’ behaviour towards the Match Officials, with the aim of reducing disrespectful conduct such as aggressively challenging decisions or running from distance to confront an official.
PGMO will apply the Laws of the Game to rigorously manage:

  • Dissent towards Match Officials
  • Offensive, insulting or abusive language and / or gestures towards Match Officials
  • Physical contact with Match Officials
  • Surrounding Match Officials
  • Conduct in the Technical Area

Shaun Harvey, EFL Chief Executive said: “Our domestic football has traditionally been admired for its excitement and sense of fair play. However, there are rising concerns amongst supporters, clubs and the football authorities about declining standards of on-field behaviour by some players and managers.

“This season will see the introduction of a second group of full-time referees, who will primarily oversee matches in the Championship, so it is therefore a good time for the EFL, in conjunction with the Premier League and FA, to ensure that match officials have the full support of the football authorities to apply the relevant laws in the interests of the game.

“To be clear, this is not designed to be just another ‘Fair Play’ initiative in order to encourage better conduct by players and managers, this is clear set of instructions from the football authorities to referees to take action against certain behaviour that we will not tolerate in our matches.”

Richard Bevan, Chief Executive, the League Managers Association said: “The LMA and its members fully support plans to continue to improve participant conduct in all aspects of the game. English clubs are fortunate to be managed by some of the most talented managers in world football, whose contributions make our game the most entertaining and followed in the world. Managers such as last season's Premier League winning manager and LMA Manager of the Year, Claudio Ranieri, set a tremendous example for managers, coaches, players and fans worldwide, balancing their competitive edge with respect for their opponents and fair play.

 “Everyone within a club has the responsibility to ensure that proper standards of conduct are upheld at all times. Where there are incidents of misconduct the individuals will be appropriately reprimanded in line with The FA’s disciplinary procedures. We work with the managers and coaches who receive disciplinary sanction to help them take pro-active steps to prevent future misconduct.

“We are also delighted to see a new phase of increased investment in the training and development of the Professional Game Match Officials.

“We look forward to working alongside all stakeholders and together continue to raise standards across all areas of the game.”


The Professional Game Match Officials has been tasked by the competition organisers to issue the appropriate sanction available under the Laws of the Game. This will mean:

1. Dissent towards Match Officials
Cautions will be issued to players who:
Show visibly disrespectful behaviour to any of the Match Officials
Respond aggressively to decisions
Confront an official face to face
Run towards an official to contest a decision

2. Offensive, insulting or abusive language and /or gestures towards Match Officials
Players who confront Match Officials and use offensive, insulting or abusive language and / or gestures towards them will be dismissed

3. Physical contact with Match Officials
Physical contact with the any Match Official in a non-aggressive manner (e.g. an inquisitive approach to grab the Match Official’s attention) will result in caution
Physical contact with Match Officials in an aggressive or confrontational manner will be sanctioned with a red card

4. Surrounding Match Officials
When two or more players from one team surround a Match Official the referee will caution at least one of the players
The FA will continue to sanction teams when they surround Match Officials

5. Conduct in the Technical Area
The requirements of the Technical Area Code of Conduct will be more rigorously enforced for Players and Club staff
Additionally, Match Officials will be required to retain professional detachment from Players and Club staff at all times


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